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Harding making season debut tonight

  • Blog Post by: Michael Russo
  • January 20, 2013 - 12:12 PM

As expected, Josh Harding will make his season debut tonight in the second of a back-to-back against the Dallas Stars.

It will be Harding's first start since revealing he has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

"I thought he had a great training camp," coach Mike Yeo said. "Hards, it's a great story I think, what he's battling through and the attitude that he's had through all this. We're real excited to give him this opportunity. We're all pulling for him and I'm hoping that we really play a great game in front of him."

Harding is 1-1 all time vs. Dallas with a 3.58 goals-against average and .880 save percentage.

Please go to www.startribune.com/wild for today's coverage. There's my game story, my Mikael Granlund notebook (and an update on the Houston Aeros' lease situation) that is a good read, my first NHL Sunday Insider of the 2013 season and Jim Souhan's column on Zach Parise.

As for tonight, the Stars media expects that Swedish rookie Christopher Nilstorp will make his NHL debut in goal. Like Harding, Nilstorp is a southpaw. He is 28 and played the last four years for Farjestads in the Swedish Elite League.

The Stars are coming off a 4-3 win at home last night. Jaromir Jagr, who turns 41 next month, looked like vintage Jagr. Two goals, two assists.

The only arena in the NHL that Jagr has never scored a goal in? Xcel Energy Center, and this is a guy who scored at the old Met Center.

Zenon Konopka, despite breaking his nose for like the 13th time, will play, and he said, probably without a visor.

"Better looking again," quipped Konopka, who like usual, was an awesome interview this morning. I'll lead my notebook for Monday's paper on him as of now, so check out those quotes.

"He's a hockey player," Yeo said of Konopka playing.

Matt Kassian and Matt Dumba will be scratched again.

The key tonight for the Wild is to improve in the defensive zone. There were some mad scrambles last night, and despite the result being a victory, Colorado easily could have scored three or four goals in the first period. The Avs missed three open nets, and in the third, were a goal post away from tying it.

Just turn on the NHL Network highlights last night, and sloppiness and what Yeo called "chaos" in defensive zone was the common thread for all teams thanks to a one-week training camp and no exhibition tuneups.

"It's to be expected a little bit right now," Yeo said. "...We weren't going to be about half as good as we will be a month or two from now."

As I mentioned on last night's blog, Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon weren't happy with their game and had a good talk afterward about what they have to do to be better. I thought there were mishaps defensively (Colorado's first goal is a chief example), but from the defensive blue line up, I thought they were good.

That's it for me. Talk to you after the game and follow me on Twitter throughout at russostrib.

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